Japan is between eyebrows and eyebrows to break the 16th round barrier at the World Cup.
The Japanese will compete in their seventh consecutive World Cup, managing to reach the round of 16 three times. But he could never go beyond that period.
They lost 3–2 to Belgium four years earlier, were eliminated on penalties by Paraguay in 2010 and lost 1–0 to Turkey when they co-hosted the 2002 tournament with South Korea.
Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu said that our goal is to reach the quarter-finals once again. But his team was placed in Group E, probably the strongest in the first round. They will face Germany, Spain and Costa Rica.
The two European teams always appear on the shortlist for the title, while Costa Rica Brazil reached the quarter-finals in 2014. Germany has four world champion stars, and Spain has the one they won in 2010.
“I don’t think we can win by repeating the same things from the last six tournaments,” Moriyasu said. “We need to perform and compete, no matter who we face on the court.”
After putting up different formations in the warm-up against the United States and Ecuador in September, Moriasu hid the cards for the line-up he would make for his debut against Germany on November 23.
By way of background, Shuichi Gonda will be the goalkeeper, with English Arsenal’s Takahiro Tomiyasu and veteran Maya Yoshida at the centre. German Stuttgart captain Wataru Ando, and Hidemasa Morita reign in midfield.
Daiichi Kamada, who has had a good season with Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, has established himself in his co-traveller role. Junya Ito aims to be a partner on the right bank, although the French Reims’ fast winger could play in the middle if Moriyasu decides to do without veteran Yuya Osako.
Ito was featured as the top threat player in a 1–0 loss against Brazil in Tokyo earlier in the year.
It is not known whether the skilled Takefusa Kubo, a selection figure at the previous Olympic Games, and Koru Mitoma will find a place in the team, or if they will have to come off the bench as a jerk. Japan lost 3–1 to Mexico in the bronze match of the Olympic event.
This Japanese team may lack experience. Moriyasu could bring in stalwarts like goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and defender Uto Nagatomo to provide the lead.
Japan confirmed in Russia 2018 that it can shoot down anyone. They took a 2–0 lead against Belgium after 52 minutes, but lost 3–2 after missing a goal in stoppage time. Belgium advanced to the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champions France.
To many, the most admirable thing about the match was that the Japanese players – despite a painful defeat – took pains to leave the locker room clean and thanked their hosts in Russian. Japanese fans also collected garbage from the stadium, filling plastic bags after elimination.
The player with the lowest Japanese name is goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt. He was born in the United States to a German father and a Japanese mother, but grew up in Japan since childhood.
Schmidt excelled in a 0-0 draw against Ecuador in September with several meaningful saves. He can fight Gonda for the title.
Schmidt emulates tennis player Naomi Osaka and basketball player Rui Hachimura as Japanese athletes who have at least one non-Japanese father. Osaka lit the Olympic flames at last year’s Tokyo Games, while Hachimura was the flag bearer at the opening ceremony.
Athletes such as Schmidt, Osaka and Hachimura represent multiculturalism in a country known for its homogeneity and little ethnic diversity.